Many people find themselves looking for field-expedient glass, but for the most part, they’ll eschew the use of a spotting scope compared to binoculars. And binoculars definitely have some advantages, but in many situations spotting scopes just make more sense.
If you’re wondering which is right for your next excursion, read on and we’ll give you the education you need to make it happen.
1. Superior Zooming Capabilities
Spotting scopes have much higher power than you’ll find in even the best binoculars. If you’re looking to be able to see further then you’ll be well-served with long-distance zooming.
More than that, for hunters and target shooters they’re a superior choice for the level of detail you’ll be able to see in your targets. While you may be able to check on a 300-yard hit with binoculars, a spotting scope will let you help your partner adjust windage.
Likewise, a pair of binoculars might reveal a distant herd of prey, but a spotting scope will let you see if that prize-winning buck is mixed in among them and where you’ll be able to ambush them.
For those who need to see further and still maintain a high level of clarity, it’s hard to recommend binoculars for anything but figuring out where to aim your spotting scope in the first place.
2. Bigger Objective Lens = Better in Lower Light
If you have even the slightest bit of knowledge about how optics work then you already know how important it is to have a large objective lens when you’re hunting in low light conditions. They’re good for more than just taking up pack room after all.
A large objective lens is much better for dawn and dusk conditions, which is why many birdwatchers and hunters prefer to use them over binoculars. Larger binoculars can often take up more room and weigh more than a spotting scope with an equivalently sized objective lens, eliminating some of their portability advantages.
The bigger objective lens also helps with a clearer sight picture: an essential component for both wildlife watching and hunting that some people overlook. There’s no point in stalking a buck only to realize it’s not legal once you’re within shooting range.
3. Greater Distances of Sight
Both hunters and wildlife watchers often find themselves trying to observe animals without being observed in return. There’s a lot to be said for spotting scopes at that sort of distance, especially since even a cheap one has a zoom which is comparable to the best binoculars.
Being able to observe animals from 500 to 1000 yards and still get crystal clear details? That’s an advantage which you simply won’t get with binoculars.
Spotting scopes just see farther. There’s really no comparison in the distances that you’ll be able to accurately spot and identify wildlife at when compared to binoculars.
4. Smaller Models Are Available
While many people tend to think of spotting scopes as large, cumbersome devices. That’s simply not true these days. There are many smaller, hand-held models available that will keep you from having to set up a tripod every time you want to peer through the glass.
These models are getting smaller all the time, and if you’re willing to spend the money on them you may even be able to find a spotting scope that takes up less room than a regular pair of binoculars while still sporting their customary advantages.
That’s a big plus, especially for ultralight packers where every ounce counts.
5. They’re Much Better for Photographers
Photographers will find that both binoculars and spotting scopes can be used in a pinch instead of a dedicated zoom lens.
If you’re going to make the choice, however, you’ll quickly find that a spotting scope offers better picture quality and they’re also simpler to use for this purpose. Most brands will also offer their own solutions for mounting a camera directly to the scope, which isn’t a feature that’s found with binoculars.
The simple fact is that with only a single lens to take care of there’s a lot to be said for a spotting scope.
And if you’re a celestial photographer there’s really no better way to get excellent pictures of the night sky than a high-end spotting scope. Since they’re essentially small telescopes in the first place they’re a great way to get excellent stills of the sky around you, especially if you’re somewhere without light pollution.
6. They’re Cheaper for the Same Zoom
Spotting scopes will almost always be cheaper for the same zooming power than you’ll be able to get with binoculars. A relatively cheap spotting scope, for instance, will often have more power than a pair of binoculars that are double the cost.
The reason is simple: there’s only one lens array contained in a spotting scope. This allows manufacturers to produce them much more cheaply than they’re able to when they need two lenses and the more complex frame of a pair of binoculars.
On another note, if you’re into home improvement, it’s safe to assume you have the necessary tools to get creative with your scopes and build some nifty things – for yourself or your kids. Think homemade telescopes or even custom hunting setups. Patrick at WeldingChamps has some easy DIY ideas for your next home project.
Is a Spotting Scope Right for You?
While spotting scopes aren’t the right choice in every situation, they often come out ahead of binoculars in field usage and photography. Many people find themselves preferring them for their superior zoom, larger objective lens, and lower comparative price when it comes to fieldwork. They’re just a bit less convenient in some situations.
If you’re on the fence still, why not look through the above and see if these qualities don’t appeal to you? You may have just found a new favorite companion for your next trip.
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